George Grosz: The Stick Men

SERIES | Loans to museums, spring-summer 2023

Current museum exhibition programming gives us the opportunity to highlight works presently on loan through our gallery.

We invite you to discover and visit these exhibitions over the course of a weekend or during your next summer vacation!

Exposition George Grosz Stick Men

The exhibition
“George Grosz
The Stick Men”

This exhibition is presented by the Grosz Museum in Berlin.

George Grosz created his last major series of paintings and watercolours, the “Stick Men”, from the mid-1940s onwards, in reaction to the devastating news of the Holocaust and other atrocities of the Second World War.

The deployment of atomic bombs at the end of the war and the threat of a third world war reinforced his pessimistic view of humanity’s future.

Affiche de l'exposition "George Grosz. The Stick Men"

He presents his “Stickmen” as dehumanised and starving beings wandering aimlessly in a contaminated post-apocalyptic world.

This Stick Men series is the culmination of a lifetime of political and artistic struggle.


Among the works loaned through us for this exhibition:

George GROSZ (1893-1959)<br />
Der Traum des Bügers<br />
C.1924<br />
Encre<br />
65 x 52,3 cm

George GROSZ (1893-1959)
Der Traum des Bügers
65 x 52,3 cm
Private collection
Work sold by our gallery during the Salon du dessin 2022

George Grosz, a committed artist

Born in Berlin in 1893, Georg Gross grew up in the Danzig region. After the death of his father, the teenager developed a keen interest in drawing and dreamed of becoming a caricaturist for successful newspapers and magazines. As his surname was very common in Germany, he changed it to “Grosz” at the age of 13, in order to distinguish himself.

Disbarred from high school after returning a slap from a teacher, he managed to study at the Dresden Academy of Arts. The conservatism of the institution bored him and in 1912 he left to study in Berlin at the school of the Museum of Decorative Arts.

George Grosz en 1930

George Grosz in 1930

Art against war

In 1915, he suffered a serious sinusitis on the Western Front and returned to Berlin. When he had to go back to fight in 1917, he had a nervous breakdown after which the doctors declared him unfit. The young man rejected the conflict and held the organisation of German society responsible – he entitled a 1917 work “The Ugliness of the Germans”. To deny his Germanness, he changed his first name to George.

As we learn in the permanent exhibition, after the war and in the political and social turmoil of the years 1918-1920, he became one of the most zealous Dada agitators in Germany.

A member of the Communist Party, he distanced himself from the KPD after a three-month stay in the USSR in 1922, during which he met Lenin and discovered the realities of Soviet communism. From then on, his commitment would be through art.


A major figure of New Objectivity

Grosz enjoyed great popular success with his satirical depictions of the rich bourgeoisie, who were able to get away with it during the war and hyperinflation.

He warned against Hitler’s ideas early on and emigrated to the United States two weeks before the dictator came to power. His art was later declared ‘degenerate’.


Grosz Museum :
an atypical young museum

The “Das Kleine Grosz Museum” opened in May 2022 in a former petrol station from the 1950s to honour the artist George Grosz (1893-1959). The museum offers bi-annual temporary exhibitions and a permanent room summarising the artist’s career.

Le musée George Grosz à Berlin

The George Grosz Museum in Berlin

At the opening of the new museum, Klaus Lederer, in charge of culture at the Berlin City Hall, underlined the topicality of George Grosz’s work, at a time when inflation and war are returning to Europe.

This ephemeral museum, announced for 5 years, has planned a programme of ten temporary exhibitions – 2 per year – which will focus on little-known aspects of Grosz’s career, particularly his period of American exile.


To go further

Video : The secrets of George Grosz’s “Metropolis” painting

No, “Metropolis” is not part of the exhibition “The Stick Men”. This painting is kept in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

However, if you don’t know George Grosz and his work, this video from the blog “Culturez-vous”, by Antoine Vitek will be a first, quick (1 minute) and instructive approach! (in french)

This painting gives a vision of Berlin during the First World War.

If you prefer to read the related article on the Culturez-vous website, it is here (in English)

Podcast: George Grosz, the line at war – in French

A documentary from the podcast “Toute une vie”, on France Culture, published on 28 February 2015.
Duration: 58 minutes

In this programme, George Grosz himself recounts some of the episodes of his life, through archives of the German radio (Radio Bremen).

Marty Grosz, his son, guitarist and stage man in the United States, sheds light on certain episodes, particularly his American life.

Ana Fonell, actress and grand-niece of George Grosz, shares her interpretations of the artist’s texts from Berlin.

Two cartoonists, Willem (Charlie Hebdo, Libération…) and Muzo share their interest in Grosz, an important figure in their careers.

Catherine Wermester, art historian and Grosz specialist, and Marc Dachy, historian of Dadaism, provide the reference points.

Listen to the programme

Podcast "George Grosz, le trait en guerre", France Culture

Practical information

George Grosz : The Stick Men
24 May-October 2023
Grosz Museum
Bülowstraße 18, 10783 Berlin

Affiche de l'exposition "George Grosz. The Stick Men"

Loans to museums, spring-summer 2023
Discover the other articles in this series:

Marquet in Normandy: at the André Malraux Museum of Modern Art – MuMa, Le Havre Read the article
Suzanne Valadon. A world of one’s own: at the Centre Pompidou Metz Read the article
From Matisse to Chagall. The adventure of painters who bear witness to their times: at the Musée Jean Couty, Lyon Read the article
Henri-Edmond Cross. In the light of the Var, “The most beautiful country in the world”: at the Musée de l’Annonciade (Saint-Tropez) & at the Villa Théo (Le Lavandou) Read the article